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Astral Brewer Review

- Thursday September 6, 2012
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UPDATE: We have had our Brewers for for over 4 months now and after non-stop use we are still LOVING them. 

Mike and I received our Astral Brewers in the mail early last week. Like kids on Christmas day, we tore into the packaging and drug out the shoes. Mike had selected the Navy/Azul, while I went for the Black/White. When we got them unwrapped and started examining them, I can certainly say they did not dissapoint in the style department. These truly look like a normal, stylish shoe I'd wear around town. I've even had non-kayakers ask me what kind of shoes they are because they look cool and they wanted some. You don't often get that with gear designed to be wet...

The packaging was very minimal and looked eco-friendly. One nice addition was an extra pair of shoelaces in a different color. Mine for example, came with some black laces in addition to the white ones that came pre-laced. The laces themselves looked very substantial like they could take a beating. They also looked like the would stay tied pretty well.

The interior sole of the shoe lacks an insert and is covered with protruding shapes. This concerned me at first as they don't look particularly comfortable. As soon as I slipped them on though, my fears were alleviated. The Brewer is a very comfortable shoe that you can wear all day. I saw one review where the reviewer was complaining about a seam on the inside that caused him blisters. Although I could feel the seam in question, neither Mike or myself had any problems with it. The outside of the soles has draining holes to allow water out. There is also a gap in the back of the shoes, where the fabric meets the sole, that allows debris to drain through. Very nice touch. 

Click to see the gallery

The main material of the Brewer is made up of the same stuff as Astral's lifejackets, which means high-quality Cordura and Airmesh fabrics. It looks nice and is very fast-drying. Also, as you will read in a few moments, it is VERY durable. 

Mike and I have been working on a river feature for a little while and we decided that it would be an excellent test for the shoes. Upon stepping into the water with the Brewer, the first thing I noticed is how they did not weigh down whatsoever when submerged. I've never felt such a light creek shoe! Next I tried stepping on slick rocks, including moss-covered ones, to test the traction. Again, amazing results! When deciding on a creeking shoe, it is impossible to go wrong with a pair that has Stealth Rubber for the soles. This stuff is absolute witchcraft in how well that it works. If you wear out the soles you can also just rip the old one off and replace it with new Stealth Rubber for around $30. You can purchase it here. 

In addition to having the awesome traction, the sole of the Brewer actually has some rocker to it, kinda like a modern creekboat. That is to say that the shoe curves up with the toe being higher than the heel. This allows for a more comfortable fit in your kayak, especially when resting them against a bulkhead like in my Liquid Logic Stomper (see my Stomper review here). It also helps keep the toe of your shoe from being caught on rocks, sticks, etc when traversing rugged terrain. 

We worked hard for a total of 3 days at the river moving rocks with the shoes underwater to clear a channel, walking on slick moss covered rocks, etc.  In between river sessions, we wore them around the office, to the bar and everywhere in between. All-in-all we probably put the Brewers through about 6 months worth of hard-core creeking in 1 week. I mean, we were seriously moving huge jagged rocks underwater with them in the middle of a violent play hole. How did they perform you might ask? Amazingly well. The shoes nearly look like brand new after all that abuse. I mean, the white on mine barely even look dirty! The fabric itself held up no problem and the only bit of wear on them is that the stitching looks a little frayed where it has been repeatedly drug on sharp rocks. Not bad at all, just a little wear that you can see upon close inspection. Check out the gallery to see the results.

I'll admit that at first, I scoffed at the $99 price tag. That just seemed excessive to me for a shoe that you wear while kayaking, however after you get and use the Brewer you understand that it is about the best kayaking shoe on the market. Period. Do yourself a favor and get some. Be confident in the fact that not only do you have amazing traction, durability and comfort, you also have mad style. Isn't that what's really important?  

Go to for more information and check out the video below where Dagger's Chris Gragtmans talks about his experience with the Brewer


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